pre-season training pt.II

It was that good last time, we went straight back up: Vertigo It got even higher and even better! Following our short jaunt up ...

It was that good last time, we went straight back up:


It got even higher and even better!

Following our short jaunt up to the Mer de Glac; Andy and I repeated the trip, this time taking Robyn in place of Leigh. At least if we dropped Rob into a crevasse, she'd be easier to haul out than Leigh's 115kg!

Once again up the train, and straight down the goat track. Sans hangover, meant we were up there earlier and this time heading in the right direction. Instead of heading straight for the ice caves, we chose the ladders that would drop us further 'upstream'. Well, it started with ladders and soon turned to tiny ledges and Via Ferrata, hanging hundreds of metres above the icy death below. Being the resourceful group that we were, we each rigged up some leashes and on we went.
Andy on the first ladders - nice pants!

Rob loving the exposure on the Via Feratta. check the size of the ledge!

Like last time, the crampons were both a pain and a blessing. They took getting used to on the ladders, were excellent on ice and rock, and downright scary on metal 'steps'

Crampons can be awkward on metal

After and interesting passing manoeuvre on an american military group on the Via Ferrata, we backed down an old school abseil (hand over hand on a big rope - no gear) and regrouped on the glacier itself. we'd finally made it!

surely you can trust me with your life, now, how to tie that knot?

A quick briefing to Robyn about following distances and arresting falls, we roped our selves up and took Andy for a nice walk like a good dog. 

For glacier travel, the party ropes up, so that if any member falls into a crevasse, the remaining members can hold the fall, set up and anchor and effect a rescue. The key to being able to hold a fall, is that there is no slack in the rope. With the most experience, we set Andy to lead the progression, meaning he would choose the path and take the greatest risk. Robyn would be there to take the primary load and i would be free to set up anchors and rescue system.


 A time check showed that we would not make our intended destination, so we looped back downstream towards the ice caves. Walking on the glacier was fairly easy as there was knee-deep, loose snow at most. however, crusting on the surface and all the rocks littering the glacier made traveling some parts difficult. When walking, one must always take into consideration the terrain the other party members are crossing, so as to keep slack out of the line.

Once at the ice caves, I set up an anchor point using balanced twin ice screws and we rappelled down to the floor. It was my first time loading ice screws and i was a little hesitant, especially as we had to start rappelling from above the anchor, meaning a bit of free fall before the ropes took up. Well it turns out the anchor was bomb proof and i didn't end up sliding down holding all the gear that was meant to keep me up.

setting up belay anchor

While we had a top rope set up, I took advantage and went for my first ice climb. It was great fun! I carry mountaineering crampons rather than technical ice climbing crampons, the prior are much lighter (and cheaper). I had issues with them rolling of my boots on the way up, however, they did get me to the top.

Andy coming down in front of the mighty Drus

Once again, we were running out of time, this time due to Robyn starting work that afternoon. I removed the anchors, made the short hike back around the ice wall, joined the others and started the sprint back uphill to catch the Montenvers train. I must have worked hard on the day out, as i couldn't keep up with the other two. We did however make it in time to get the train and hence robyn still has a job.

Check it, anchors hold!

There are a few soothsayer's warning of a particularly dry and cold winter. As I've said before, there is very little we can do about it, aside from make the most of it. Cold and dry leads itself to ice climbing. 

Maybe time for new crampons?

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